As a lifestyle photographer, my number 1 focus (inexcusable yet almost unavoidable pun, sorry) when planning any couple, family or pet shoot, is to find the best light. Number 2 is finding ways to capture the love, connection and personality between the beautiful souls in front of my lens, that includes the 4 leggeds. Number 3 is advising my clients on how to look their best for their upcoming photo session.
Now of course you can show up to your shoot with a pony-tail, no makeup, wearing shorts, t-shirt and flip flops and we’ll still get some great images BUT if you follow just these 5 tips below you’ll manage to take your images to a whole new level and together we can achieve timeless, classic, beautiful photographs.
Come on! Why not? I mean you’ve booked the photographer, somehow managed to twist your partners arm and
begged/bribed/wrangled coaxed the rest of the family into buying into this photo session idea. You’ve already done all the hard work, just maximise on the situation now, I promise, it really doesn’t take a ton of effort and you’ll be so thrilled you did.
TIP 1 – LADIES FIRST
Most often a woman will choose her baby/children’s outfits first and plan the other outfits around that. Let’s face it, babies and kiddos look cute whatever they wear, I prefer Mom to choose her outfit first.
I want all my ladies to look and feel beautiful. All my ladies. Listen up, here’s the secret – Wear what makes you feel beautiful, confident, comfortable and yet still like yourself.
To this end, I strongly encourage you to wear a soft textured, flow-y dress. If you’ve got a “issue” with bare arms, choose a dress with sleeves or wear a large silky scarf to loosely drape over your shoulders. If dresses are really not your “thang” then at the very least incorporate a silky scarf or pashmina. Flowy dresses, skirts and scarves look gorgeous teased by the wind, add movement to the scene and photograph beautifully. They give a soft, feminine vibe to the photos.
Make sure your clothing looks good and fits well, anything that is pulling or too baggy will not do your body’s shape any favours. Stains, wrinkles, holes and missing buttons are just plain fugly.
You should feel confident standing, sitting, running and dancing in your chosen outfit. There’s a very good chance I’m going to ask you to perform most of those actions during the session anyway.
TIP 2 – DON’T COPY, COMPLEMENT
We’ve all seen those family photographs where everyone is wearing the same colours and the same outfits. I have one word for those photos. BORING.
No my loves, just no. We do want a common thread throughout the outfits but we don’t want clothing to be matchy-matchy. Choose colours that complement each other. Pick 2 or 3 colours that look good on everyone and then work the colours or shades of the colours into each outfit.
MY FAVE LOOK – NEUTRAL SHADES – You can’t go wrong with neutrals. A mix of layers and textures will still add interest to the outfits and avoid the clothes looking too similar.
I’m a big fan of soft/muted hues that are mostly in the same colour family and using varying shades of a particular colour. Pinks, blush, coral, blues, seafoam, grays, off-white/ivory can all work.
If soft colours feel too boring , add some pops of rich jewel tones in small ways into all the outfits. Alternatively, go for a monochromatic palette in varying shades.
TEXTURE – Don’t put everyone in jeans! Mix it up a bit, one person in jeans, one in chinos, and the girls in skirts and dresses. Variety is the name of the game. Other items than could add texture, depending on the time of year, are tweed, chunky wool, silk, lace, tulle and faux fur. Think about clothing that won’t look too dated too soon.
STAY AWAY FROM – stripes, wavy designs and tiny prints. Avoid at all costs t-shirts with large logos, graphics, characters or wording, they take the professional look of the images down a good few notches.
Please don’t wear takkies, Crocs or cross trainers. Everyone should wear their best shoes or sandals for the occasion, or in the case of a beach shoot, barefoot works beautifully just ensure that your nails look good. I don’t mean you have to go all out to the salon, just a quick DIY manicure is fine.
TIP 3 – ACCESSORIES
Jokes aside, this is a BIGGIE. Think outside the box – scarves, hats, flowers in the hair for girls, a simple bunch of flowers, head bands for babies, jewelry, sweaters, scarves, socks, belts, vests, jackets, etc. – these things can add a load of zhoosh! and personality to an outfit.
MY FAVE ACCESSORY – HATS – Hats frame the face, can add a touch of cheeky fun, elegance or sophistication to the photos.
TIP 4 – HAIR & MAKE-UP
Make up needs to be applied a teeny bit heavier than normal for portraits because the camera has a tendency to wash out the colour. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep your make-up looking fresh and natural, steer clear of glitter and bling and remember to wear mascara and a neutral lip colour.
Don’t pluck your eyebrows or pick at your skin the day of the shoot, the goal is to try for even toned skin with no red patches.
If you have contact lenses wear them. Glasses can cause unwanted reflections.
For your hair, go for the very best version of your natural everyday look. Make sure your hair colour is recent, your roots will most definitely show up in photographs.
If you or your little girl have long hair, avoid tying it up. A pretty clip to keep it out of the face is fine but leaving it loose is much more flattering than a plait or ponytail which makes little girls look like little boys, especially on images taken head on.
Little boy hair should be well-groomed but not so neat and slick that he’s unrecognizable.
Men, if possible, should be clean-shaven, unless they wear a beard.
TIP 5 – for the fellas
Most men don’t like dressing up for a photo session, particularly in clothes they wouldn’t ordinarily wear. It’s important your man feels like himself no matter what he’s wearing.
That doesn’t mean he can look like a slob, your fella needs to be well groomed with clean shoes, freshly ironed shirt and pants or shorts. Socks should match the pants not the shoes.
Avoid t-shirts if at all possible.
MY FAVE LOOK, EVEN FOR THE BEACH – Chinos, a collared, long sleeved casual cotton or linen shirt with sleeves nonchalantly cuffed (works the same for men and women) it looks classic and accentuates the jawline. So yummy! If your guy’s up for it, add a stylish accessory like a panama hat, tweed cap, great watch or a scarf as long as he feels natural wearing them. No baseball caps!
“The secret of
is to feel good
in what you wear”
– Ines de La Fressange
When you book your shoot with me either on a beach in Sedgefield or someplace else, I’ve got your back. You’ll receive a more comprehensive style guide and a link to my “What to Wear” Pinterest board to ensure you all look fabulous dahling!